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Mike's Odyssey to Greece - 2005

Part 4: Football Madness

As I mentioned earlier, my friends took me to a Greek football game (soccer for us Americans) at the Olympic stadium.

I've never experienced a European football game before, and my friend Giorgios told me to expect craziness and possibly riots.

The first thing that I noticed was that the opposing team was physically segregated from the home team by having them sit in a separate section surrounded by bulletproof glass AND a full-on riot squad.

Opposing team
The team of Olympiakos from the port city of Pireaus. Their color is red.

The opposing team was the "Olympiakos" from the very nearby port of Pireaus. This was the team that we were silently (very silently - like in our heads silently) cheering for. But because Giorgios and Sotirios couldn't get tickets there, we ended up sitting with the home team, who is called "AEK" (pronounced Ike).

AEK in yellow
The home team of AEK. Their colors are yellow and black.

Kickoff festivities
Here is the scene following the kickoff. Toilet paper flew, shredded phonebook confetti flew everywhere, and the first of many flares were lit.

Players on field
The players on the field. Note the bulletproof glass huts that each team sit in.

The game was very exciting. AEK had 5 opportunities to score that all missed off of the goalpost. And they had three of these in 10 seconds! It was unbelievable! Of course, after the fifth near-goal, the crowd went nuts and flares were lit, curses were hurled, and the extra security came out in the event of possible riot.

Mike with crowd
Here I am with the crowd at halftime.

Fires in stands
The crazy celebration from the home team, in which flares were lit and fires were started. Imagine how crazy it would be if they won!

It was still a fun evening and good fun was had by all - except for my friend Jim, who got his wallet stolen entering the stadium. Two guys bumped him and stole his wallet from his front pocket. I'm sure I speak for Jim when I say "Ai gamisou, melaka!" to the guy who stole his wallet!

Football fans
In the end, we became rabid Greek football fans!

Continue on to Part 5: Acropolis at Night (or "Some things do close early in Greece")